Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ironwood Rhubarb #7

"Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." (Wendell Berry)



Every human  being goes through transitional states in life. At some point you outgrew your diapers. Later you learned how to tie your shoes and learned how to read and write. Perhaps at one point or another you decided to get married, take a job in a different state, buy a house, or start your own business. Too many changes (transitions) in a short period of time may have adversely your mental health and overall satisfaction with what life has brought your way.

If there was a sanctioning elder during these transitional states your experiences might be considered liminal, a threshold between two differing personal realities. If there was no sanctioning elder, these threshold experiences would be considered liminoid.

In the book of Genesis Jacob wrestles with an angel and is given a new name and mission.  He suffered physical injury while wrestling with the angel. Thus we have the motif of a shaman as a wounded healer.

Proverbs 26:4 and 5 give two contradictory approaches when a fool is messing with your reality: respond in kind or don't respond in kind. You will be in a transitional phase as you decide the appropriate response.

The liminal/liminoid state is a threshold state, neither here nor there, neither up or down, neither up or down. One has to dispense with the old before acquiring the new.

An entire society may go through these transitional states. One that comes to mind is the 2000 USA presidential election, ultimately decided by a 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court.

Sometimes a liminal/liminoid state can last a long time with no clear outcome or sense of finality. George W. Bush declaring war on terror might be considered an example of this. Even Donald Rumsfeld felt that the phrase "war on terror" was not quite right.

Cultural anomie--deteriorate/shifting norms of a society--also came about as a result the Roe versus Wade decision, creating division regarding unwanted pregnancies.

For an ordinary Joe or Jane a transition may come after a vivid and disturbing dream. Other changes could be deterioration in health, falling in love with a third person while in an unsatisfying marriage, loss of employment, or the death of a loved one.

The milieu for a successful liminal transition will involve sacred space and time with a tribal elder--often an individual that is a psychologist or a minister of a church that you feel comfortable telling your stories to.  For a liminoid experience you might want to spend time at the seashore, camping/hiking in the woods, or reading a book that guides you through your change, the author filling in for tribal elder.

When Ronald Reagan wanted to quite using tobacco, he started munching on jellybeans, though I don't know if that was the best way to transition.

You can't win them all. Happy transitioning!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Meme Generals

"A meme general is one who controls vast influence. His or her army shapes the messages consumed by the masses, enchanting the listeners to understand their message. For countries this is called propaganda, for churches this is now called a sermon, for companies it is called marketing or communications." (Howard Campbell in "Poker Without Cards by Ben Mack)......for more on the subject see Ironwood Rhubarb #4 below.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Ironwood Rhubarb #6


He tells me to take some Reese's Pieces for the flight crew, so of course this week's New Yorker has a cartoon of a robber inquiring "are those Reese's Pieces?" while holding up the store clerk during a robbery.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the network of mutuality, the Unitarian Universalist speak of the interdependent web, and not many years ago Al Gore invented the Internet. He might have had a little help from his friend, Joe Cocker.

The notion of acausal synchronicity was first promulgated by Carl Jung after handing one of his clients a scarab beetle to complement the beetle that appeared in her dream life. It apparently became a breakthrough in the therapy sessions that seemed to be going nowhere.

"My sister and I are 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 33 hours apart in age. Our mother's favorite number is 3." I told her to look up Jeremiah 33:3 and that my son was born when I was 3 decades, 3 weeks, and three days old.

"I had a dream I was selling lollipops out of a cigarette carton. A few weeks later two co-workers were talking. One said 'these are the cigarettes I am smoking now.'  She pulled lollipops out of a bag. I was shocked. It was the fulfillment of the dream that I had."

If you overdo the obsession with patterns and coincidences in your life you may be drifting into apophenia, a word coined by Klaus Conrad a German psychotherapist. He felt this could indicate a form of schizophrenia.

I had somewhat of a foray into paranoia in the fall of 1994. Due to obsessing about coincidences I felt I had caused the death of 68 people on the 68th anniversary of the death of Houdini. It was on the 17th anniversary of my first day on the job in Brazil, Indiana. The 68 who died were on flight 4184 and the plane was in a holding pattern in NW Indiana, waiting for permission to land. There was ice buildup on the wings, but I felt I was responsible for the crash--just as one woman felt she was responsible for the carnage of September 11th, 2001

Most patterned coincidences appear in hindsight rather than foresight, but I had one experience in foresight that I feel is worth sharing.  It happened in 1985. A man I met one morning while out and about handed me his business card. I noticed that the four last digits of his phone number matched the four digits on my  friend Joreen's car tag.  I thought "I am going to run into Joreen today." Sure enough it happened. She pulled up in a gas station  in her car.   We remain good friends..

"Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." "Remark made by Albert Einstein who formulated a mathematical construct between matter and energy.

The writer Nelson Algren's ideology can be summed up in a remark made by one of his characters, a defrocked priest. Asked  by law enforcement why he was defrocked he replied "because I believe we are members one of another."

That's from the Good Book and should inform our meaning making, our logotherapy. We are bound together in the web of synchronicity, the Other is the Self  sometimes and the One is the All. Something like energy equaling mass times the speed of light squared.